Muslims have a Field Day on November 2, Election Day
In the United States, elections are held throughout the year. There are city and county elections, political party elections, recall elections, ballot referendums, and general elections. This year, 2021, a few of those elections occurred earlier, but the majority were held on a day commonly known as Election Day, the first Tuesday in November. This year, Election Day was November 2, 2021.
Here it is almost three weeks later, and one of the top news headlines is the outcome for Hamtramck, Michigan. Voters in that municipality elected a Muslim mayor and an all-Muslim city council. This city of 28,000 residents elected seven Muslims to represent them for the next two years.
In my forthcoming book, Muslim Mechanics, I mention that Muslims have begun to explore political freedom in the United States. Muslim followers benefit from living in a free-market society. Free markets mean free choices, which boils over into our elections. We get to choose our representatives freely. The United States is a melting pot of immigrants, and this group of city leaders in Hamtramck is no different.
The diversity of the Muslims in Hamtramck's political structure is wide. Out of the six council members, three will be of Yemeni descent, two of Bangladeshi descent, and one who is white but a convert. The mayor is also of Yemeni descent. The city manager and other City Hall workers are not Muslims.
In nearby Dearborn, the mayor is a Lebanese American Muslim. In next-door Dearborn Heights, the newly elected mayor is Lebanese-born. In New York, voters elected a Bangladeshi American to the city council. Another Yemeni American became the first Muslim elected to the Lackawanna City council in New York. In New Jersey, a Pakistani woman was elected to the state's legislature. Another Pakistani American became the first Muslim elected to the Galloway Township, New Jersey, council. New Jersey currently has more Muslim officials than any other state.
The city council position seems to be the starting point for many first-time Muslim politicians. An Albanian American was elected in Massachusetts, a Bangladeshi American immigrant in Minnesota, and an immigrant from Pakistan in Pennsylvania.
There is no structure for mainstream Muslims to participate in their country's politics in a foreign Islamic country. However, in the United States, local political power still allows a group to play in local politics, and that is what the Muslims have done.
Ironically, Islam in America may become more vibrant and responsive to its followers than in a country dominated by Islam. Democracy is not a form of government that most Muslims grow up with. Muslims grew up with the Greek classics as they conquered many Alexander the Great's lands. Their caliphates did not employ Athenian ideals. While many Muslim immigrants know democracy and may have even experienced it in countries such as India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt, they have not experienced real liberal democracy as we practice in our country. We must remember that Muhammad preaches those laws made by men to rule men are sinful, and only rules that come from the Qur'an and the sunna are justifiable.
Many newly elected leaders have said that there is a separation between their religion and city hall. That they indeed will perform their job without religious interference. I hope they follow through because the rest of the country is watching to see how they do.